Honoring true heroes

We Honor Veterans event launches new hospice initiative
by Jeff Pederson of The Review staff


THE WE HONOR VETERANS benefit event for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice in Sheboygan Falls featured replicas of the World War II monuments in Washington, D.C. Thursday, March 14, at Acuity in Sheboygan. — Review photo by Jeff Pederson THE WE HONOR VETERANS benefit event for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice in Sheboygan Falls featured replicas of the World War II monuments in Washington, D.C. Thursday, March 14, at Acuity in Sheboygan. — Review photo by Jeff Pederson It was a night filled with emotion, reflection and celebration for U.S. Military veterans and their loved ones, as the We Honor Veterans benefit for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice in Sheboygan Falls shined the spotlight on the heroes of “The Greatest Generation.”

The event, which was held at Acuity in Sheboygan, featured a wide range of patriotic themed displays, musical performances, light shows, video presentations and keynote speeches related to the sometimes forgotten and under appreciated sacrifices made by U.S. Military veterans, particularly during the World War II era.

Much of the program focused on the World War II veterans who were part of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight initiative founded by Joe Dean, the son of World War II U.S. Navy hero David Dean.

Under Dean’s direction and vision, the Stars & Stripes Honor Flights have flown over 5,000 World War II heroes to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

Dean was on hand to discuss the history of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program and the “Honor Flight” film that was released last summer.


A REPLICA OF THE SHEBOYGAN COUNTY VETERANS MEMORIAL was on display, during the We Honor Veterans benefit for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Thursday, March 14, at Acuity in Sheboygan. — Review photo by Jeff Pederson A REPLICA OF THE SHEBOYGAN COUNTY VETERANS MEMORIAL was on display, during the We Honor Veterans benefit for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Thursday, March 14, at Acuity in Sheboygan. — Review photo by Jeff Pederson He developed the idea to start an Honor Flight program in Wisconsin after seeing a news report on The Honor Flight Network program that was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain from Ohio who sought to assist World War II veterans with the travel expenses and arrangements needed to see their war memorial.

“When the World War II War Memorial opened in 2005, I remember feeling grateful that we finally had a memorial to honor these great soldiers,” Dean said. “I also thought a lot about my dad at that time.Then when I saw the report about the Honor Flight program, I knew we had to start one here for all of our World War II veterans in Wisconsin.”

Charlie Sykes, WTMJ radio and television personality, assisted Dean in delivering the keynote presentation of the evening.

Sykes traced his involvement with the Honor Flight project and Dean’s commitment to giving World War II veterans the recognition and appreciation they so richly deserve.

“I remember when Joe first got the idea for the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program and came to me to help promote it and raise money to make the trips happen,” Sykes said. “His idea was to rent a 747 to take a group of 300 World War II veterans on a day trip to the war memorial in Washington, D.C. He said he needed to raise $150,000.

“Later he told me he needed $250,000 to make it happen, but that didn’t slow anything down,” he said. “Through various fundraising efforts and the support of many people, he raised enough money to rent three 747s for that first flight.”

Sykes said the Honor Flight program has given World War II veterans a chance to honor those that served with them and to also receive some overdue recognition for their own sacrifice and courage.

“It is called ‘The Greatest Generation,’ but somehow we forgot about what these people did to basically save our country and the world,” Sykes said. “Through the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program and the ‘Honor Flight’ movie, these men are finally getting the respect, dignity and appreciation that was frankly not there when they came home from the war.”

Together Dean and Sykes showed and commented on several clips from the “Honor Flight” film, which debuted at Miller Park in Milwaukee last August to a Guinness Book of World Records film premiere crowd of nearly 30,000 people.

Dean and Sykes concluded their presentation by recognizing the efforts of World War II veterans Joe Demler and Harvey Kurz and over 600 volunteers in raising money for the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program.

All veterans in the audience were also saluted in an emotional tribute to their dedication and sacrifice to the U.S.

Randy Schwoerer of Schwoerer and Associates served as the event planner and master of ceremonies for the special patrioticthemed program.

The special program served to kick off the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice’s involvement in the We Honor Veterans program.

Through a new association with the National Hospice and

Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Richardson Hospice has joined in a nationwide effort to improve the vital connection between hospice facilities, VA centers and military veterans.

During his introductory statements, Schwoerer noted that the We Honor Veterans campaign plays a key role in assessing the needs of veterans of military service and improving their end-of-life care experiences.

“It may be surprising for people to learn that 25 percent of those who die each year in the U.S. are military veterans,” Schwoerer said. “A vast majority of veterans are not enrolled in VA programs, so they may not even be aware of the end-of-life services and benefits that are available to them.

“This event here tonight is the start of a new initiative on the local level to assist our veterans in finding the services that they need,” he said.

The program began with the presentation and posting of colors by the Wisconsin State Patrol Honor GuardandU.S.NavalSeaCadetPO3TylerTuttle.

The Sound Celebration and Vaguely Familiar choruses performed patriotic songs during the social hour prior to the event, as guests viewed replica displays of of the World War II War Memorial and the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial.

State Sen. Joe Leibham presented the Governor’s Proclamation on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker, who was invited but unable to attend.

The benefit event concluded with a performance of “God Bless America” synchronized with a patriotic lighting presentation designed specifically around the de- sign of the Acuity building.

The event served as a fundraiser for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice’s Patient Care Fund, which offers financial assistance to families of patients unable to pay for end-of-life hospice care and services.

To learn more about the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program visit www.starsandstripeshonorflight.org

To volunteer for the Veteran to Veteran program at the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, call 467-1800.


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